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Friday Notes

The terrible end of State's season should not diminish what a remarkable team accomplished.

Ralston Turner appears devastated after State's loss to St. Louis in the NCAA tournament.
Ralston Turner appears devastated after State's loss to St. Louis in the NCAA tournament.

Thursday saw the tournament start off with a couple of blowouts  with Wisconsin just killing American, 75-35, and Pitt beating Colorado by 29. And Syracuse thumped Western Michigan, 77-53. Both Michigan schools won easily. Otherwise, though, there were some wonderful games played.

First, congratulations to Tommy Amaker, who continues a remarkable job at Harvard. The #12 seeded Crimson took out #5 Cincinnati.

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This is not supposed to happen at Harvard.

Next up for Amaker & co. is Michigan State. Amaker knows Tom Izzo's system and proclivities well, having coached against him for several years while at Michigan.

Harvard to the Sweet Sixteen? It would have seemed preposterous a few years ago, but now, certainly not. It's an old joke in Durham, but in a basketball sense, Harvard may indeed be becoming the Duke of the North.

Archie Miller's Dayton squad knocked off Ohio State 60-59, when point guard Aaron Craft couldn't hit a last-second shot in the lane. That was topped by the Texas-Arizona State classic, which saw Cameron Ridley pick up a rebound (from the floor no less) and hit a basket over the outstretched arm of 7-2 Jordan Bachynski. And he didn't miss it by much. We'd love to see a close-up shot of that play. It was extremely close.

But as we saw it sail over the long arm of Bachynski, the backboard light went off, the shot fell in, and Arizona State's bench, understandably, was crushed.

So was State's. What happened? In a nutshell, State just ran out of gas. And who can blame them? It's not the NCAA's fault that the Pack had to play three tournament games and then fly out to Dayton for another, but it is the NCAA's fault that State was put at a massive disadvantage when the team had to arrive in Orlando around 4:00 a.m.

Nonetheless, until State was exhausted, Mark Gottfried's team played very well against St. Louis.

State Nation is crushed, too, but put it in proper perspective: this team wasn't even supposed to be here. With three players back? Are you kidding? And State made the tournament, won a game and nearly two? That's tremendous. It's almost unheard of.

Everyone associated with this team should just radiate pride. And that includes fans.

Speaking of fans, Wake fans were certainly pleased to have finally run off Jeff Bzdelik. The students rolled campus after news leaked out of Bzdelik's departure.

The last guy we can remember who was this unpopular with fans, Herb Sendek aside, was Bucky Waters, who coached Duke at the end of the Vietnam era and who did so with a certain militaristic flair.

He was just at odds with his time and following a masterful coach in Vic Bubas.

In Bzdelik's case, he never got Wake fully on track. He did bring in some good recruits and had some big home wins, but it wasn't enough.

But did it justify the fan reaction? Did it justify billboards, personal attacks and, according to Jay Bilas, threats against his family?

At Wake Forest? We appreciate that Wake fans are a feisty bunch, at times a bit prickly even, but to this extent?

And the follow-up question is what damage have they done to the program they profess to want to help?

Archie Miller knows. Jeff Capel knows. Gregg Marshall knows.

Everybody knows how the fan base treated the coach.

You may remember that after Herb Sendek moved on, tired of similar behavior at State, that the Pack had trouble finding anyone willing to take the job.

They finally settled on alum Sidney Lowe, who was at that time not a college graduate, who recruited reasonably well but who could not turn the talent into a force.

Like Wake fans now, State fans were sure that coaches would beat down the doors for a chance at the job.

Didn't quite happen, and when Debby Yow hired Mark Gottfried, she hired a guy who had been out of coaching a few seasons and who left Alabama under something of a cloud. Certainly his mid-season departure was nothing to cheer about.

Wake A.D. Ron Wellman says that it may take "weeks" to hire a new coach.

That may also be complicated by the fan reaction against Wellman: if he's perceived to be on shaky ground as A.D., not many guys are going to want to work for a potential short-timer.

If Wake's lucky, Wellman will find his guy by the Final Four. Concurrent with the big show is the coach's convention. Lots of deals are struck there.

We haven't seen that anyone has spoken to incoming guard Shelton Mitchell, but he's a highly promising point. Will he stick with the Deacs? Or will he ask to be released from his letter of intent?

If he decides to opt out (and Wake allows it), that would put two pretty good guards on the market late: you may remember that former Appalachian State coach Jason Capel refused to release Raleigh's Devonte Graham from his LOI. Graham opted to sit out a year and may well end up at State.